Monday, January 20, 2014

Helpful Household Hints: Avoiding Frozen Pipes

We're coming up on another deep freeze over the next few days.  If you were one of the many unfortunates that had to contend with a burst pipe due to freezing, you may remember that in my last post I made some suggestions on how to deal with it, and maybe what to do to avoid it in the future.

The future is bearing down.  Your time to act is now.  You cannot wait until warmer weather arrives, if you'd prefer to avoid slithering around in freezing mud under your house to deal with a burst pipe, then you'd better get slithering around under there right now while it's still dry.

If you cannot afford a bunch of heat tapes or are feeling the financial bite of having hired a plumber to do the job last time, then there is a simple expedient: crack open some faucets.

It's really that simple.  Reducing water to freezing temperature doesn't require pulling that much energy out of it, but making it make the change from water to ice takes much, much more energy removal.  If you simply have some water moving through the pipe, always bringing in fresh water from the main, you may be able to dodge the problem.  Before sufficient heat energy has leaked out of the water through the pipe walls, that water has already gone all the way through the pipe and been replaced by new, not-freezing water.

Yes, that means having a faucet run all night.  You might do well to get up in the middle of the night to flush the toilets a couple of times, too.  It's a lot less inconvenient than having to dry out your house again.

You don't have to have the faucet going wide-open.  Just a thin stream will do.  If you're one of those people who can't stop hearing the drip-drip-drip and it keeps you awake, tie a length of string to the faucet that the drip will hit.  The drop will then slide down the string and reach the sink that way instead of having the loud impact that you can hear.

I generally recommend opening all the faucets for just a trickle.  Don't forget the tub.  Water is fortunately one of the least-expensive commodities Americans consume, so you won't break the bank doing this.

Good luck with it.

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